My Retake Strategy Band 9 Failure

TL:DR - online topic tests/ BB/ past AM exams (timed) MULTIPLE TIMES and memorize them

Failed in 2016 - over 300 hours of studying but only started in mid April

  • Knew all the material but had bad exam execution (AM time management/ hard PM
  • At this point I haven’t started for 2017 and literally forgot every formula/ concept
  • No need to “start over” but I figure the first 100 hours will be just to “warm up”
  • I will NOT be reading the text other than a deeper dive in particular concepts


  1. The “online topic tests” are a BIG DEAL - there are 90 item sets (540 multiple choice questions) including the 2 mocks
  • Last year I went through all of them 3-4 times and my plan now is to redo all those now to “catch up” to last year
  • Keep a spreadsheet of all tests to pinpoint questions that are especially good/hard/tricky/calculation intensive etc
  • Important to remember that some multiple choice questions/concept can come up in an AM format
  • Attempt to “memorize” all the questions to the point you could go through all 90 item sets consistently getting 100% (understanding how to get the answer)
  1. Blue Box examples are the gold mine - spend all your time there (do them multiple times)
  • EOC is less important and not very good in some readings - some chapters only have a few questions
  • although - ETHICS EOC and GIPS EOC are VERY GOOD - memorize
  1. Make 1 page master notes (front and back) for each study session (cram everything in there legibly)
  • keep condensing these notes till exam day with what is most important for you (formula/definition/examples)
  • I found this helpful for level 1 and 2 but for whatever reason last year I waited till last minute and it ended up sloppy
  1. Do all the past AM exams (from 2009 onwards) multiple times (to the point that you memorize question/ understand answer)
  • Late period (April/May) and always attempt them in exam conditions (3 hours timed)
  • Notice patterns in the AM exams (types of questions/concepts that “always come up”)
  • Ignore the exams pre 2009 as CFAI has changed the way questions are asked (too easy for the most part compared to current)
  • After a few runs through the AM exams - cut the exams up and group them by topic (FI/ economics/ equities etc.)
  1. Save 1 AM (2016 version) and 1 PM mock for near the end…
  • problem I had last year is that i ran out of “new material” the final week - save something to keep you on your toes

Sounds like you have it figured out what you need to do… one question which prep provider did use and/or using ??

^^ no prep provider. i think retakers that had a good grasp on the material last year just need to dive into working the problems… depending on how Feb/March goes I may get the S chweser Practice exam book… but I think there are enough examples with just CFAI… also contemplating doing the live mock ($75)… just because the exam experience/ conditions was my weak point last year

when you say blue box is that the examples in CFAI text or the schweser notes ??

I have from 2012 onwards. Cannot find older. Does this implicate a problem? If so, why CFAI then removed them.

Forget it. Solved. Cheers!

I am trying to get into the ideas again, what is EOC again?

End of Chapter.

usually refer to practice problems at the end of curriculum reading.

Had a very high regard on L2 as a key success factor for majority candidates.

Hi asked same on 1st level, then again on level 2 and now again?

h21 what’s going on? Did you take your therapy? :slight_smile:

HAHAHAHA Good memory! I get confused…a lot.

Let’s nail it again. yes

@danv0330 Do you have the past AM papers from 2009 onwards ? On the CFAI website, AM papers of only last 3 years are available.

honestly I have printed copies only… but i know they are out there

My advice would be to practice the AM questions hardcore on the old exams. Don’t write essays, write bullet points. If you had Band 9, you will do great on the PM. The AM is key.

Also don’t take timed tests while practicing. Take them at your leisure, as you get better, the timing will improve by default.

great advise, in general how long does it take you to go through a reading on book? I started 25 days ago still struggling to get in the routine, super slow and cant focus

I think if you really stop and do the examples and EOC as you go it should take about 3 hours per reading… of course some are more dense than others but going through the entire curriculum once in about 75-100 hours sounds about right.

Schweser 2-3 weeks, CFAI official 1,5x to double than Schweser. Each day at least 3-4 hours, official EOCs solving included. You have enough time with probability of completely burning out before May.

I spent about 200 hours on my first read-through, which included all EOC questions and honest attempts at the written answer questions rather than just reading the solutions. Although, I tend to go slow through the first read and I like to spend extra time on the examples.